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A data type holding rich text data (textmodel).

Project description

A data type for storing and manipulating rich text data. It aims to be fast and efficient and it is suited even for very large texts.

Quick example

>>> from textmodel import TextModel
>>> text = TextModel(u'Hello World')
>>> text2 = TextModel(u'!', fontsize=20)
>>> text.insert(11, text2)
>>> text.set_properties(6, 11, bgcolor='yellow')
>>> for i in range(1000):
...     text.insert_text(len(text), "Line %i\n" % i)
>>> print text.linelength(0)


Storing and editing text information is a problem with a long history in computer science. Known solutions include the gap buffer (used by Emacs), the piece table (used by MS-Word) and the rope data structure .

The text model uses internally a structure which I named “texel tree” and which is probably a new approach to the text problem. The goal was to find a data structure which stores text together with format information and is

  • fast (even when implemented in a scripting language)
  • efficient (in memory consumption)
  • hierarchic (so that texts can contain tables and math formulas)

The texel tree consists of nodes which are called texels (text elements). Each texel can have a variable number of child texels (between 8 and 15), forming a highly branched tree, similar to a B-tree. Operations to the tree a performed in such a way, that the tree is kept balanced, i.e. all branches have exactly the same depth. The texel tree is fast because it allows all text operations (insert, remove, copy, paste) in logarithmic time. It is efficient because it stores text on the level of strings and not on the character level.

Text model is an interface to the texel tree, hiding all the complexity of the recursive texel data structure. It is termed “text model” because in a model-view-controller scenario it would have the role of the “model”.


Note that textmodel is not yet optimized. By saying that the texel structure is fast, I mean that the time of operations grows only slowly with the length of the text. I would not be surprised, if the times could be improved by a factor of 2.

The following table shows how the time needed to insert a line grows with the length of the text. The text length is measured as number of text nodes, where each text node holds one line of text, e.g. 50000 means a text with 50 thousand lines of text.

# lines time (milliseconds)
1 0.332514
3 0.379985
5 0.436915
10 0.519033
30 0.596213
50 0.657198
100 0.75822
300 0.843198
500 0.897312
1000 0.998324
3000 1.081806
5000 1.136462
10000 1.246638
30000 1.356982
50000 1.404089

As the table shows, the time grows only very little with number of lines. Ideally, I would expect a logarithmic dependence on text length. This is especially true for the following:

  • inserting strings
  • inserting other trees (=paste)
  • copying text
  • removing text
  • calculating index positions from (row, col)-tuples and vice versa
  • counting lines

Implementation details

The texel tree consists of different kinds of texels: group texels, character texels, glyphs and containers.

Character texels hold strings of uniformly styled unicode text. NewLines are a special case of character texels. Groups hold child elements. The following texel stores the words Hello world! with world marked with red.

G[C('Hello'), C('world!', bgcolor='red')]

Each texel has a length, which corresponds to the number of contained characters. For example, the length of C(‘Hello’) is 5 and the length of an empty group is zero.

There are also texels for new lines and tabs and a special mark for the end of text.

Users can introduce new texels, e.g. tables and math formulas.

Each texel has a weights attribute. This is a tuple with 3 integer numbers, where only the first one is actually used by textmodel and the other two are free to be used in applications. The value Weights[0] is the number NewLines contained in the texel and its childs. For example in the tree

G[C('Hello'), C('world!', bgcolor='red'), NL]

this is 1 for the group G and the newline itself, but 0 for the two characters texels. The weights[0] data is used by methods as nlines, linelength, lineend and index2position to efficiently find the newline texels.

Project details

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